February 11, 2009

Improved Ballot Systems Needed To Provide For Overseas Military Voting

By: Office of Public Information Staff
A new report released last month concludes that half the states need to improve their ballot systems to give overseas military time to vote.

The report, "Make Voting Work," found that 16 states and the District of Columbia do not give overseas military personnel enough time to vote, and another three states cut it so closely that their ballots are also at risk. In Alabama, which needs the longest time among states to send and receive ballots, it takes 88 days to cast an overseas military vote. Alabama requires three mailings: first, from a soldier requesting a ballot, again when the state sends it, and once more to send in the ballot.

The states that process an overseas military vote in the shortest time are Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico and Rhode Island, with just eight days needed to complete the voting process, according to the report. These states are among 19 that allow completed ballots to be returned by fax or e-mail.

To read the full report online, go to this link .

February 04, 2009

Tucker Appoints Cromer Vice Chair of Civil Law Committee in Lorusso's Absence

By: Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer

House Speaker Jim Tucker today appointed state Rep. George Gregory Cromer as the temporary vice chairman of the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee.

Cromer will serve while state Rep. Nick Lorusso, who has been ordered to active duty in the U.S. Army Reserves, is out of state.

Lorusso has served as vice chair of the committee since last year. Cromer is a member of the committee.

Gregory Ernst to Temporarily Replace Lorusso

State Rep. Nick Lorusso (left) congratulates Gregory Ernst after the House & Governmental Affairs Committee recommended he temporarily replace Lorusso as the District 94 representative during Lorusso's tour of active duty in the Army Reserves.

By: Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
House Speaker Jim Tucker today accepted the recommendation of the House & Governmental Affairs Committee and appointed Gregory Ernst to temporarily replace state Rep. Nick Lorusso who has been ordered to active duty by the U.S. Army.

Tucker said, " I have accepted the recommendation of the House & Governmental Affairs Committee and am appointing Gregory Ernst as Rep. Lorusso's temporary replacement. This was a win-win situation in that all three nominees were extremely qualified and I want to thank them all for their willingness to serve."

" It is important that the citizens of District 94 continue to have representation while Rep. Lorusso takes his public service a step farther and serves his country in the war on terrorism. I look forward to working with Mr. Ernst and believe he will serve his district well during Rep. Lorusso's absence."

"I also would like to commend Rep. Lorusso for his service to his country and wish him the best of luck during his active duty."

Ernst, a graduate of Harvard College and Tulane Law School, is a partner in the law firm of Peuler & Ernst, specializing in Admiralty and Maritime Law. He previously served as a staff attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and the Louisiana Mental Health Advocacy Service. He also served as a Summer Fellow for the Louisiana Department of Justice in the Environmental Enforcement section. He is a member of the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel.

In accordance with Constitutional Amendment No. 3 (Act 931 of the 2008 Regular Session) which was approved by voters last November,a legislator ordered to active duty in the armed forces for a period of 180 days or more is to submit the names of at least three nominees to be his temporary successor to the presiding officer of the house of the legislature of which he is a member.

The nominees must meet the qualifications and eligibility requirements of legislators, i.e. be at least 18 years of age, a registered voter, a Louisiana resident for at least two years, and a resident of the legislative district he will represent for at least one year prior to running for office. Immediate family members of legislators cannot be nominated or chosen to serve in this capacity.

All three nominees signed affidavits with the Clerk of the House prior to the House & Governmental Affairs Committee meeting stating they met the constitutional requirements.

Lorusso submitted the names of Gregory L. Ernst, Thomas G. Fierke, and Steven L. Pettus as nominees. Mr. Ernst and Mr. Pettus were interviewed by the House & Governmental Affairs Committee today. Mr. Fierke was unable to attend due to a conflict and Mr. Lorusso presented his biographical information.

The committee unanimously recommended Mr. Ernst as Lorusso's temporary replacement.

Lorusso, a Lieutenant Colonel in the JAG Corps Reserves, will serve as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for the Army's I Corps at Fort Lewis in the state of Washington in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He reports to active duty February 9, 2009.

Ernst has seven days after Lorusso begins active duty to take the oath of office.

Economic Development Reports 2008 Successes and 2009 Outlook

by: Office of Public Information Staff
The Louisiana Department of Economic Development (DED) released a report last month including economic highlights from 2008 and an economic outlook for 2009. Commenting on the report, DED Secretary Stephen Moret said, "Louisiana improved its position in numerous national rankings while Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature implemented significant policy changes to position Louisiana for a brighter economic future. Thanks to these changes and our state's recent economic performance, Louisiana's position in several major national rankings will improve next year."

Despite national economic trends, Louisiana experienced record economic development last year. Louisiana outperformed both the South and the U.S. as a whole with an increase in total employment, low unemployment rates, and a healthy real estate market expected to maintain home values well into 2010. In fact, the only significant monthly decline in employment occurred in September as a result of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Also in 2008, Louisiana's soon-to-be fifth Fortune 1000 company announced plans to move its corporate headquarters to the state, while another company expanded to become Louisiana's third Fortune 500 company.

The DED cautions, however, that decreases in oil revenue in 2009 could offset gains in other sectors. The report enumerates steps the DED will take to help maintain the strength of the state's economy. The full report can be viewed in PDF format here.